Posted by AndyW on Saturday, April 13, 2019
I'm usually pretty good at setting goals and keeping to them. My most recent is to learn 4 tunes per month in order to do more playing and less sitting listening at our local jam.
This month I've had quite a limited amount of play due to being slightly busy with non banjo stuff. This meant I just wasn't going to get anywhere near learning 4 new tunes.
As an experiment I started trialling out using my index finger to frail rather than my usual middle. I had tried before, and not only found it extremely difficult, but also pretty harsh sounding.
This time round it seemed a lot easier to make the change. Probably due me being a bit better player than before, and also this time playing tunes where my left hand already knew exactly what it was doing.
I've read about the 'exposure effect' before. I've experienced it directly with old time music. At first I couldn't stand fiddle, preferring to listen to solo banjo. Now after lots of listening I prefer String Band first, fiddle second, and solo banjo third.
The 'exposure effect' here was that at first I found my index finger tone to be harsh compared to my mellow middle finger. However after a month of ensuring I can play all my tunes as well with my index as my middle, giving it enough play to bed in I now find my index finger tone to be clear as compared to a 'muddy' middle.
In fact I think I now prefer my index finger. Which has the added bonus of giving me a fair bit of extra volume if required. (Don't know yet if that is due to my middle nail being a lot thinner/flexible due to more play, only time will tell.)
So, although I didn't learn my 4 new tunes, (I probably had enough time to learn 1 if I tried) this month has been far more beneficial. I now have more tonal range due to being able to choose between middle/index. I have (to my ear) more clarity when using index. And, probably the main thing is If I bust a nail/finger I'm not shafted. (I've not had it happen badly enough to stop playing yet as I've always trimmed out any splits but I imagine it will happen just at the wrong time).
A pleasing month I think. Let's see how my index get's on in it's first public outing at our monthly session tomorrow night.
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